10-26-2017 Columns

Does market volatility scare you?

Halloween is almost upon us. Of course, on Halloween night, you may see a parade of monsters, demons, Transformers and other frightening individuals stopping by your house, exercising their right to demand candy. Fortunately, their appearance will be unlikely to cause you unpleasant dreams. But some people seem to have real fears about other things – such as what may happen in the financial markets. One way to keep those fears at bay is to avoid certain impulsive moves, such as the following:

Avoid ducking out of the market – Consider this: In March 2007, the Dow Jones Industrial Average stood at about 12,275 points. Exactly two years later, in the immediate aftermath of the financial crisis, the Dow had fallen to about 6,500 – a drop of 47% and the Dow’s lowest point in 12 years. By that time, a lot of people had gone to the investment sidelines. So, what did they miss? Depending on how long they stayed out of the market, they may have missed some, or perhaps most, of one of the longest and strongest bull markets in history, because, just eight years later, the Dow had soared to almost 21,000, a gain of 223%. Of course, investing does involve the risk of losing principal, and there is no guarantee the market will perform as it has in the past. However, it’s fair to say that if you duck out of the market during its lower points, you might not benefit from the gains that may follow.

Avoid chasing “hot” stocks – By the time you hear about a supposedly “hot” stock, it may already be cooling off. Also, how trustworthy is the source? Does this tip come from an unbiased, knowledgeable individual? If not, you have reason to question its value. Even more important, though, you need to ask if the hot stock is appropriate for your needs, goals and risk tolerance. If not, it’s not so hot.

Avoid taking on too much – or too little – risk. If you feel the need to push your portfolio toward the maximum possible returns, you might invest too aggressively and take on too much risk. Conversely, if you are determined to avoid any amount of loss, at any time, you might invest so conservatively that your portfolio won’t grow enough to help you achieve your long-term goals. You need to strike a balance between risk and reward that is appropriate for you, and you need to make investment choices suitable for your individual risk tolerance.

Avoid owning too many of the same investments – If you own a lot of one particular financial asset and a market downturn affects that asset class strongly, your portfolio could suffer. But if you spread your investment dollars among domestic and international stocks, bonds, U.S. Treasury securities, certificates of deposit (CDs) and so on, you may not be as susceptible to a downturn, because different types of investments often perform differently at any given time. (Keep in mind, though, that while diversification can help reduce the effects of market volatility, it can’t guarantee profits or protect against all losses.)

No matter what you do, you can’t take all the uncertainty out of investing. But by understanding market volatility and the composition of your portfolio, you can invest with more confidence.

This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor.

Cervical cancer

The American Cancer Society estimates that in 2015, about 12,900 cases of invasive cervical cancer will be diagnosed in the United States.  About 4,100 women will die from cervical cancer in the United Sates this year. In order to lower this death rate, the Berrien County Health Department encourages women to take preventative actions against cervical cancer. All women should begin cervical cancer screening by age 21 with regular Pap tests and continue screening until age 65. Regular Pap tests, performed every three years, can find changes in the cervix before cancer develops and can detect cancer in its earliest stages when it is the most treatable.

A major risk factor for developing cervical cancer is exposure to Human Papillomavirus (HPV).  This virus is sexually transmitted and can cause genital warts and cervical cancer.  The virus can be detected through routine Pap tests with your healthcare provider.

The Berrien County Health Department provides free Pap tests to eligible women.  There is a also a vaccine available that protects against 70% of the sub-types of HPV that cause cervical cancer and 90% of the subtypes that cause genital warts.  The vaccine is recommended for girls 9-26 years of age.

Women should get vaccinated before they are sexually active for the most protection. It is important to remember that the vaccine does not completely protect against all cancer-causing types of HPV, so routine cervical cancer screening is still necessary.

For the best protection against HPV, women are encouraged to live healthy lifestyles, limit the number of sexual partners, and always get regular Pap tests.

For more information, call the Health Department at (269) 926-7121 or visit www.bchdmi.org.

Ending driver responsibility fees

Michigan’s driver responsibility fees (DRFs) are an unfair double penalty that makes it hard for many residents who have made a mistake to regain their license and get back to work.

I was proud to support legislation to finally get rid of these over-the-top fees and give relief to thousands of struggling Michigan residents.

Senate Bills 609-615 and 624-625 would eliminate assessment of new DRFs as of Oct. 1, 2018 and forgive any outstanding DRFs older than six years on a rolling basis.

The bills would also enable drivers who cannot pay their fees to get their license back immediately and pay the DRFs through community service or a workforce training program.

I previously supported a reform to phase out the fees. However, this takes it a step further.

These fees unfairly punish drivers for violations that have already been penalized. The result has been an enormous negative impact on working families and our economy.

Many Southwest Michigan residents lost their driver’s license and often their job because they could not afford the fees. Now, growing Michigan businesses are being impacted because the fees are artificially limiting the availability of skilled workers.

In addition to hurting workers and employers, the vast majority of the fees owed in Michigan will never be collected because low-income drivers will never be able to pay them.

It is time to turn the page on this chapter of the Granholm era and help affected workers get back to helping build our economy.

I look forward to working with my House colleagues and the governor to end these punitive fees.

As always, I look forward to hearing your comments and feedback on the important issues facing Michigan. You can contact me at 517-373-6960.

Help is on the way in opioid epidemic fight but more work remains

It still seems like everyone I meet these days is in some way impacted by the tragic, ongoing opioid abuse epidemic. The numbers are startling and heartbreaking: The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates more than 33,000 Americans died from opioid abuse in 2015, including nearly 2,000 from Michigan.

This is why I was so pleased when the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) this year announced the first round of grants to help states and territories combat this widespread problem. Here in Michigan we will be on the receiving end of more than $16 million in grant money. These federal funding grants were made available as part of my bipartisan 21st Century Cures Act that was signed into law at the end of 2016. We fought hard to include this $1 billion – in total funding – to aid in this public health crisis.

But, clearly there is more work to be done. In addition to this needed funding, I’m also proud to continue support actions we’re taking at the House Energy and Commerce Committee to combat this epidemic. We’re holding hearings with public health experts to see what more we need to do and holding companies accountable for alleged illegally or irresponsibly providing too many pills to too many people. Please know that here in Congress we will continue to take steps to address this heartbreaking issue.

To learn more about this and other important legislative issues, please visit my website: upton.house.gov or call my offices in Kalamazoo (269-385-0039), St. Joseph/Benton Harbor (269-982-1986), or Washington, D.C. (202-225-3761).

New legislation

On the heels of passing my first law, I wanted to take a moment and update you on three more bills that I look forward to advocating for here in the House.

The first bill would rename part of Red Arrow Highway, from Glenlord to Hilltop Road, the “Trooper Robert J. Mihalik Memorial Highway.”

In 1984, Trooper Mihalik pulled over an individual who had failed to pay for gasoline earlier that day. Tragically, the routine stop turned deadly when the suspect suddenly became hostile and shot Trooper Mihalik three times, ultimately killing him. He was thirty-seven years old at the time, with a wife and two small boys at home.

Trooper Mihalik was the 38th Michigan State Police Officer to die in the line of duty, but gave his life protecting and serving the community he loved. This highway dedication is a way to honor his sacrifice and remind us all of the dangers our first responders face on a daily basis.

Additionally, I introduced two more bills that would streamline rules regulating Michigan’s Adopt-a-River and Adopt-a-Shoreline programs. While framework for these programs has existed for some time, the programs have been severely underutilized.

Many people who are passionate about nature would be interested in doing their part to keep our waterways beautiful, but they simply do not know it’s an option. These reforms will offer more individuals and groups an opportunity to volunteer by clearing litter from rivers and shorelines within Michigan state recreation areas.

Promoting community engagement on these efforts is vital considering that no point in Michigan further than six miles from a body of water when you include lakes and rivers. In exchange for the volunteers’ efforts, those who take part in the Adopt-a-River and Adopt-a-Shoreline programs will be recognized with signage in the areas they adopt.

If you ever have any ideas on how to improve state government, please do not hesitate to contact me at 517-373-1403 or by emailing KimLasata@house.mi.gov.